Porsche celebrates 25 years of 996-era 911 sports car model
Luxury sports carmaker Porsche is celebrating 25 years of the 996-era 911 sports car model, which was first showcased at the IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt in 1997. The model has many new features including the rear-engined drive concept. The model made use of water cooling technology instead of air cooling and a ground-breaking parts-sharing concept with the 986-generation Boxster.
The interiors of the 996 and the Boxster were identical but what remained unchanged was the boxer principle of the six-cylinder engine. "Porsche needed a car in a lower price segment, to help generate a higher volume of sales. So this led to the idea of the Boxster and the 996 sharing parts," said August Achleitner, who served as the strategic head of the overall 996 vehicle concept at Porsche.
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Apart from the parts-sharing concept with the first Porsche Boxster, another topic was the 996's engine. Due to norms related to stringent emissions regulations and several other factors, Porsche moved on from the previous two-valve, air-cooled design to the new water-cooled, four-valve boxer engine.
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Coming to aesthetics, the appearance of the 996 was under the direction of the Chief Designer in the 1990s, Harm Lagaaij. He was surprised by the strategy of a mid-engine roadster and a rear-engine coupé identically from the front to the B-pillar. “The task was a major challenge. But we mastered it by first designing a number of different Boxster-996 matching parts," he said.
The new parts-sharing concept of the Porsche model impacted every department involved in the front end – from the suspension to the electrics, the body and the overall packaging. The program envisioned that the company would sell a total of at least 30,000 units of both vehicles with a good return on investment, Achleitner said. Eventually, more than 30,000 examples of the 996-generation 911 were sold annually.